Drummond’s stock keeps rising

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — When Andre Drummond really figures out the NBA, look out.

After an 0-for-3 scoreless first half with just two rebounds and two blocks in nine minutes, Drummond finished with nine points, 11 rebounds, two steals and four blocks Sunday in a 98-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Drummond had a chance to win the game but he couldn’t corral the inbounds pass with 1.2 seconds left for an alley-oop. Some observers felt Drummond was fouled by Lakers center Pau Gasol.

But in veteran-like fashion, Drummond refused to complain about the final play of the game.

“I have no comment,” Drummond said when asked whether he was fouled.

Drummond, who won’t turn 20 until August, has been garnering quite a bit of national attention of late.

In his recent ESPN column, David Thorpe of Scouts Inc. said: “Andre Drummond has been a revelation. Not only is he playing like someone who should have been the second pick in the draft (instead of the ninth), but he has executives and coaches thinking he can be the best player from this class. Yes, better than No. 1 pick and national collegiate player of the year Anthony Davis.”

Another ESPN Insider, Kevin Pelton, took note after Drummond’s 18-point, 18-rebound game against the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

“In fact, Drummond’s first 46 games have put him in the conversation with Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal,” Pelton wrote.

That’s high praise indeed for a player with just over half an NBA season under his belt.

Even when Drummond is not perfect, he shows his coach something positive.

“The first half Andre struggled,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “Is there definitely times where Andre deserves more time? In the first half I think he deserved the time he got. Then what I was proud of him was he was a totally different player in the second half and played with unbelievable energy between.

“I was really proud of the way that he bounced back and played very inspired basketball in the second half.”

If Drummond was frustrated with not getting more playing time in the first half, he didn’t show it. In fact, he took responsibility for it and responded with an excellent second half.

“Just getting the flow going to get myself going,” Drummond said. “Different things I needed to do to get myself going. I picked it up in the second half. I wasn’t really playing as hard in the first half.”

Drummond certainly got the Lakers’ attention.

Earl Clark, who was one of five Lakers in double figures with 17 points, was impressed with the rookie.

“Drummond really changed the game, because he’s so athletic,” Clark said. “He’s dunking the ball, he’s blocking shots, he’s grabbing rebounds and he even got a couple key stops. It’s tough to keep up with him.”

Said Gasol: “Once that kid gets an opening, he’s gone.”

Drummond still has a learning curve. He tends to wander a bit on the floor sometimes and can get lost defensively.

But those are things the youngster can easily learn. You can’t teach his size and athleticism.

It will be very interesting to see what other pieces president of basketball operations Joe Dumars can get to go along with Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight.

In the meantime, it will be fun to watch Drummond the rest of this season and guess how high his ceiling could be.